PETALING JAYA: Long lines of shoppers at supermarkets have become a common sight whenever new movement restrictions are announced.
This occurs despite assurances of an adequate supply of essential items in the market.
After Friday’s announcement of a nationwide, two-week total lockdown from Tuesday, Malaysians in many states again went on a buying frenzy, with lines at supermarkets forming as early as 8am yesterday.
Photos of long queues circulated on social media showing people crowding supermarkets to buy groceries.
In Klang Valley, businesswoman Natasha Shazana Azmi, 27, who went out to do her grocery shopping, said based on past experience, it was harder to shop during the lockdown.
“I don’t think the situation is highly unusual as people usually do their shopping on weekends.
“We can’t be angry with people for panic buying now because during the first movement control order, we saw how difficult it was as a lot of items went out of stock.
“Lockdown or no lockdown, the queue will still be long because we have so many restrictions in place, so better to do it now, ” she said.
Marketing executive Justin Lim, 32, said he decided to go shopping for his family of six early to get the necessary food such as bread.
“Although we are encouraged to shop online, it’s not easy as we can’t choose fresh items.
“I’ve tried ordering online during the first lockdown but the delivery was really slow, ” he said.
In George Town, even though stores selling essentials would remain open, long queues stretching about 300m could be seen outside supermarkets yesterday.
A shopper, who wished to be known only as Ain, said her mother insisted she got a few essentials.
“I am here to buy rice, sardines and basic groceries.
“We do not want to go to the wet market as security here is better, ” she said.
At a supermarket in a popular mall in Bayan Lepas, the human chain was equally long as shoppers stared at their phones waiting for their turn while observing physical distancing.
“I’m free today so I am here to replenish some essential items, ” said one customer.
At the wet market in Perak Road, marketgoers made a beeline to scan the MySejahtera app before entering.
A chicken trader there believed the bigger-than-normal crowd was due to the impending lockdown.
While they are enjoying brisk business, a vegetable seller said she could not help but worry about the crowd in the next few days.
“If the crowd gets bigger, I am worried the authorities would close the market. Physical distancing will not be easy, ” she said.
In Ipoh, a long queue formed at a hypermarket in Ipoh Garden.
The hypermarket, which opens from 8am to 8pm, only allows up to 250 customers into its premises at a time.
A notice near its entrance also stated that only one member of a family was allowed to go in.
In Johor Baru, the manager of a hypermarket in Taman Daya, Syahmi Idzham Sabudim, said shoppers had been waiting outside since 7.30am.
‘’The line went from the gate of our carpark area, all the way to the main entrance of the store.
‘’We only allow a maximum of 250 people into the store while the rest would need to queue outside, ” he said.
Housewife Nurul Atikah Samsuddin, 32, said she decided to get her groceries early to avoid having to go out during the lockdown.
A mechanic, who only wanted to be known as Lim, 53, said he decided to get basic items such as eggs and toilet paper before stock ran out.
Separately, Domestic Trade and Consumers Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi urged consumers not to panic buy or overbuy to avoid supply disruption.
Nanta said enforcement officers would continue to monitor the situation while assuring the people that the supply of necessities would be adequate during the lockdown.
The National Security Council also sent out an SMS reminder to people to plan their purchase of groceries and daily essentials, and urged them to shop weekly at the store nearest their homes.